Members of the SOS Ria Formosa ‘Je suis Ilhéu’ movement have re-started their protest action plans following the approval by parliament of a resolution that failed to agree the immediate suspension of the planned demolition of their homes.
"In the wake of Friday's events in parliament we took the decision to start new protests” according to the islanders who now are waiting for a resumption of demolition work by the government agency Polis Litoral Ria Formosa.
Parliament approved a Socialist Party draft resolution that enables Polis to continue its project to remove 800 island properties. The Left Bloc and Communist Party proposals which sought to halt the demolitions on the islands were defeated.
The protestors are pleased that the government at least now recognises the historical rights of the Culatra settlement and hope that this can be extended to the other settlements on the islands. This is of little use to home owners outside these villages.
However, the protestors say this recognition is not enough to stop the fight continuing until their properties are registered as legitimate homes and the threat of eviction removed.
"The draft resolution presented on Friday by the Socialist Party did not mention the most important phrase, 'immediate suspension of demolitions'," say the protestors.
What the Socialist resolution wording did contain was ambiguous, namely "the continuation of the same" which the islanders consider as a continued threat to their property.
Algarve Socialist MP, Luís Graça, claimed that the Socialist Party had not changed its mind and that the demolition of properties within the magic 50 metre zone from the sea shore was always on the cards. This in fact is correct, but the reasons behind ther party's continued persecution of the islanders is not clear at all.
How this story will roll out is uncertain as Polis has an extension until the year-end to complete its work, unless its shareholders vote for another year of operation as they have done twice before.
A previous Socialist Party administration is responsible for the Ria Formosa development programme, much of which should have been of benefit to the communities dependent on the Ria for their income and wellbeing.
When the demolitions started, with 800 homes in the firing line, no government could have expected the programme to continue without stiff opposition.
The fight now has been taken to Brussels where the European Parliament's Petitions Committee has accepted the islanders’ complaints as valid and is investigating the Portuguese government’s actions of forced resettlement of families, many of which have lived on the Ria Formosa islands for generations.